Daily News: February 14, 2013

Small-Business Owner Confidence Barely Budges

Small-business owner confidence continues to drag, according to the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Small Business Optimism Index. The Index gained 0.9 points, rising to 88.9, failing to regain the losses caused by last month’s fiscal cliff scare.

Expectations for improved business conditions increased by five points, but remain overwhelmingly lownegative 30 percentthe fourth lowest reading in survey history. Actual job creation and job creation plans improved nominally, but still not enough to keep up with population growth.

“The Optimism Index barely budged in January. The only good news is that it ‘budged’ up, not down. If small businesses were publicly traded companies, the stock market would be in shambles. While corporate profits are at record levels as a share of GDP, small businesses are still struggling to turn a profit,” said NFIB chief economist Bill Dunkelberg.

“With the dismal news that our economy actually contracted in the fourth quarter of 2012, it isn’t any wonder that more small firms expect their real sales volumes to fall, few have plans to invest in new inventory, and hardly any owners are expanding or hiring. Owner pessimism is certainly not surprising in light of higher taxes, rising health insurance costs, increasing regulations and just plain uncertainty. The President will address the state of our nation tonight, but he apparently won’t have much that’s positive to relay to our small-business communitynot while the pall of uncertainty over economic policy continues to depress investment spending and growth.”

The frequency of reported capital outlays over the past six months rose 3 points to 55%. Of those making expenditures, 39% of owners reported spending on new equipment (up 3 points), 21% acquired vehicles (up 3 points) and 12% improved or expanded facilities (down 1 point).

To download the complete study, click here.